A four-month campaign to push for most social housing in Montreal is set to launch Monday.
FRAPRU, a social housing activist group, is calling on the City of Montreal to reserve land and buildings for affordable housing instead of the private sector.
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"What we see is the private sector still developing throughout Montreal and it takes years for a single co-op to develop," said Louise Constantin, a social housing advocate.
"There's an incredible need for that type of housing in Montreal," she said.
Getting a subsidized apartment takes an average of four years and Constantin said 25,000 people were on a waiting list for public housing.
"There are more than 100,000 people who spend more than half of their income on their rent," she added.
"This means they have to deprive themselves of other basic needs like food, medication, and what have you."
Constantin said the campaign will include rallies in various neighbourhoods, culminating in a large protest on June 29.
Housing a key issue: Coderre
The City of Montreal adopted a strategy to include affordable housing in new residential projects in 2005.
This program included financial aid to private sector builders who provided affordable rental housing to low and moderate-income households.
"It's a good step," Constantin said, but she added that the strategy created a dependency on the private sector and lead to the gentrification of working-class neighbourhoods.
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said the city was already doing all it could and should be able to do more once it receives metropolis status — a designation that will give the city more decision-making powers.
"By 2016 we will have legislation for Montreal, which is the status of Metropolis, and housing is one of the key issues," Coderre said.